>Thai soldiers surrender amid gunfire


Thai troops sit after surrendering at Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh October 15, 2008. Cambodia’s army captured 10 Thai soldiers on Wednesday after a battle along a disputed stretch of border near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Ten Thai soldiers have surrendered to Cambodian troops in disputed territory near the Preah Vihear Buddhist temple, according to eyewitness reports. Bangkok sent tanks and other reinforcements to the area, where sporadic gunfire continues, after attempts to resolve the standoff fell apart Monday.

Brigadier Hom Sam Ol told the French news agency AFP that the ten Thai soldiers have been detained and restrained at a pagoda near the temple.

Earlier, Brigadier Bun Thean said that the two sides had exchanged gunfire and there are unconfirmed reports of injuries on both sides.

Thai officials describe the fighting as “small-scale” and say that they are trying to contain it but they are believed to be evacuating civilians from the area.

On Wednesday, Thai televison showed military trucks loaded with tanks heading for the border and troops setting up mortars. The airforce said that jet-fighters are on standby and that transport planes are ready to evacuate Thai nationals from Cambodia.

The dispute has flared up several times since July. Talks on Monday failed to calm tempers and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an ultimatum to Bangkok to withdraw 80 Thai soldiers or risk conflict. The soldiers, he claimed, had entered a disputed area.

Internal political pressures have pushed both governments to step up rhetoric on the question, according to Jacques-chai Chomthongdi, a research assistant at the left-wing think-tank, Focus on the Global South, in Bangkok.

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